SALISBURY – Catawba College announced today that Chip Hester has resigned his position as head football coach. Hester has accepted the position of Director of Athletic Development at Catawba, a position that will be vacated in December with the retirement of Gordon Kirkland, Jr. ’70, who joined the college in 2000.Hester’s new position is part of Catawba’s Development Office and includes oversight of the Chiefs Club, the athletics’ booster club.
Hester has been head football coach at Catawba since December 2001 and coached the Indians to a 70-49 record over the past 11 seasons. His squad was South Atlantic Conference champions in 2003 and 2007, and earned NCAA Division II playoff berths in 2002, 2004 and 2007.
The 70 victories under Hester rank second all-time at Catawba, behind legendary coach Gordon Kirkland’s 107. Hester’s tenure of 11 seasons ties him for second all-time with Harvey Stratton (1962-72), and again, behind Kirkland’s 14 seasons.
Hester’s teams compiled an overall winning percentage of .588, which follows only David Bennett (1995-2001, .787), Kirkland (1934-48, .762) and Charlie Moran (1930-33, .645).
Hester expressed gratitude for the opportunity he had to coach at Catawba. “I have been part of many memorable times and wins. The championships and the playoff appearances have been something I am very proud of and will look back on with fondness. I have enormous love and gratitude for my players and coaches. I also am appreciative to my wife and family for all of their support through the years.
“I very much look forward to the next chapter in my life at Catawba.”
College President Brien Lewis noted that Hester’s skill set will be a good match for the qualities needed in his new role at Catawba. “Chip has a way with people and is very much an advocate for all things Catawba. He will bring great energy and enthusiasm to his new position.”
“No finer man has ever coached at Catawba College,” said Dennis Davidson, Catawba’s Director of Athletics. “He has guided our program with impeccable integrity through great victories and also some tough times. His record speaks for itself and he has been a perfect role model for not only our football team, but for all of our student athletes.”
Two of Catawba’s more memorable wins during Hester’s tenure both came in 2007, when the Indians went 11-2. Catawba came from behind to win a wild 55-49 decision at Carson-Newman and scored a home victory over Albany State in the first round of the NCAA playoffs, 66-35.
Hester was named Coach of the Year in the SAC and America Football Coaches Association Region Coach of the Year in 2007.
Hester joined the Catawba staff under Bennett in 1995 and coached wide receivers on a staff that won back-to-back SAC titles in 2000 and 2001. He became passing game coordinator under Bennett and followed as head coach when Bennett left for Coastal Carolina. Simultaneously to joining the football program, Hester also entered the classroom at Catawba, teaching in the Physical Education Department for the past 18 years.
Hester also served as head golf coach at Catawba in 1996-98, prior to the golf position becoming full-time. Under Hester, the Indians’ golfers won the 1998 SAC championship and received an NCAA regional berth.
A native of Raleigh, Hester was a standout student athlete at Millbrook High School. He went on to Guilford College, where he was a four-year letterman at wide receiver, before graduating in 1992. Hester earned a master’s degree at Georgia Southern University in 1993.
Hester has been very visible in the community at large, a frequent civic club speaker and active with the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA). He also saw that his football student athletes were involved in numerous community service projects throughout Salisbury and Rowan County.
Hester’s wife, Trish, is an assistant principal at West Rowan Middle School. The two are parents of daughters, Morgan and Tori, and are members of First Baptist Church in Salisbury.
A search for Hester’s replacement will begin immediately.